Tamron 70-200 f/2.8

Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 DI VC
  • Editor Rating
  • Rated 4 stars
$950 to $1500
  • 80%

  • Usability
    Editor: 80%
  • Image Quality
    Editor: 87%
  • Speed
    Editor: 85%
  • Accessories

Tamron 70-200 f2.8A great lens, and a less-expensive alternative to the Canon and Nikon versions. Comparing the Sigma, Tamron, Canon, and Nikon lenses, we found they were all worth their prices. Image quality is pretty similar between them, though the Tamron is better by just a hair. The Sigma is the least expensive, and least solid. The Tamron isn’t built nearly as solidly as the Canon and Nikon, but it’s fine for most amateurs and many pros. Like the Sigma and Nikon, the Tamron suffers from severe focus breathing, meaning at headshot range it’s not a true 200mm, but more like 140-160mm. That means you’ll need to stand significantly closer to your model, and you won’t get the same compression of facial features or background blur. In the Canon world, that was a really serious problem for our style of shooting, so we keep using the Canon 70-200. In the Nikon world, we also chose the Nikon 70-200 for our personal use over the Tamron. Though the Nikon also has severe focus breathing, it’s more solidly built than the Tamron, and we tend to beat up our gear. Here’s a discussion we had with another photographer about these lenses: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BE7ewk0qN-U In summary, don’t hesitate to buy the Tamron if you have a Nikon body. In the Canon world, you might want to consider the more expensive Canon 70-200 f/2.8 if you tend to take headshots, or if you shoot weddings and events where you can’t always move closer to your subjects and you need every mm of focal length that you can get. Here’s a sharpness comparison chart against the Canon and Sigma 70-200 lenses, on a 5D Mark III. Notice that the Sigma lags behind, but the Tamron keeps up with the Canon for sharpness… assuming you don’t consider that it doesn’t actually reach 200mm at close range, requiring you to crop when you can’t get close enough to your subject:

Here are the same charts with the Nikon D810. For some reason, the Nikon 70-200 VR II test charts are not currently available:

Pros

  • Sharper than the Canon and Nikon alternatives
  • Less expensive than the Canon and Nikon alternatives

Cons

  • Not as sturdy as the Canon and Nikon alternatives
  • Severe focus breathing compared to the Canon